Association Between Parent and Child Distress and the Moderating Effects of Life Events in Families With and Without a History of Pediatric Cancer

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Objective Examined the associations between parental and child distress, and moderating effects of child exposure to life events, in families with and without a history of pediatric cancer. Methods Children with cancer and their parents (N = 255) and healthy comparison dyads (N = 142) completed self-report measures of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Children reported on the total number of stressful life events they had experienced. Correlations between parental and child symptoms were examined. Moderating effects of child exposure to life events were tested using multiple regression. Results Parent and child symptoms were significantly related only in the cancer group. Child exposure to life events attenuated this relationship. Moderation effects were significant at or below average levels of life stress. Conclusions The experience of childhood cancer may strengthen the link between parent and child psychological functioning. However, child exposure to other life events may weaken this link.

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